Chapter 4


The initial shock passed and Duane found his voice. “Just a minute Anita, what are the charges against Rusty?”

Anita nodded at her prisoner “When the court sends you to a treatment program instead of prison, you are supposed to stay and finish the program. Our boy here walked.”

Rusty turned around and stared at the floor. His face was flushed and a drop of sweat ran off the end of his nose. Anita knew something wasn’t right. “Duane could you call my dad, I want him to take a look at Dalrymple.”

Diana glared at Anita. “His name is Rusty, you talk about him like is some sort of statistic. He’s a human being you know.”

Anita ignored Diana and turned to Rusty. “Are you alright Dalrymple? You don’t look so good.”

Rusty looked up gave her a weak smile. Her words circled through his consciousness and slowly formed a thought; he finally realized she was asking him a question. His mind refused to focus, if he could just close his eyes and get some rest.

Duane recognized the symptoms. “Listen to me Anita; I don’t need to talk to your dad. He may be a doctor but I’ve seen this thing plenty. I know you think Rusty has been using drugs, but it looks to me like his current problem is alcohol withdrawals. He’s probably a maintenance drinker. He needs to have a steady supply of alcohol otherwise he gets really sick. He probably won’t be able to sleep or eat for the next three days, he will need lots of liquids probably won’t be able to hold down food. Ever hear of a grand mal seizure?”

Anita gave him a blank look. “A what?”

“A grand mal seizure, it happened to me once. I was coming down off of a three day run. I was out of money and out of booze, standing in my kitchen shaking like a wet Chihuahua and wondering how I could get something to drink. I needed it desperately. The next thing I know I’m coming to on the floor with a big knot on my head from where I fell.  I had a seizure and my heart momentarily stopped beating. At the time I didn’t even know what had happened. That’s how it is with most people; they regain consciousness somewhere and don’t know how they got there. But sometimes their heart doesn’t start again and that’s how people die.”

Anita swallowed her fear and locked eyes with Duane. “Ain’t nobody dying around here. We’ll just give Rusty a nice cell with a bed to sleep it off.

Anita pulled a large manila envelope from her desk and looked down at her slumping prisoner. She nudged Rusty forward. “Let’s go Dalrymple.”

Rusty slowly shuffled across the room as Anita recited his rights. The stale cold air filled him with an icy chill. His head throbbed and every joint in his body ached.

He heard Anita’s voice off in the distance as she guided him forward. He saw his feet moving far below as the office flowed around him. A tinny voice was saying something about attorneys and rights.

Anita followed Rusty to the back of the room and set the envelope on a small metal table next to the cell door. “Okay Dalrymple, put your hands against the wall and spread your legs. Can you hear me Dalrymple? I said raise your hands and spread your legs.”

Rusty felt someone raise his hands over his head and place them against the wall. He slumped forward glad to have something to lean against. A sound like the surf pounding against the shore roared through his head. He felt hands frisking him and pulling things out of his pockets, words ricocheted through his skull like a cherry bomb in a tunnel.

Anita felt something suspicious in Rusty’s shirt pocket. “What’s this Dalrymple?” She looked disappointed as she pulled out his pack of tobacco and lighter. She opened it and sniffed just to make sure. She put the tobacco and lighter in the large envelope and kept on frisking. She stopped again at his back pocket and pulled out a large hunting knife. She frowned and tossed it towards a garbage can near her desk.

“Dalrymple somebody must be praying for you. I don’t know why, but I’m going to forget I found a concealed weapon in your pocket.” She finished her search and deposited everything in the manila envelope. “One wallet with forty-three dollars, a driver’s license and an old photo. Three sticks of gum and a quarter. Okay, you can lower your arms and turn around.”

Rusty heard the words “knife”, “concealed weapon” and “praying for you.” The words drifted away like a bird flying over the horizon.

His arms were pulled away from the wall and a door open in front of him. He saw a narrow bed towering up from the floor. He plopped down onto the bed as beige walls closed in around him. When shut his eyes the bed started to sway like it was floating on a sea of waves. It started turning and dropped into a slow moving whirlpool. He heard the air conditioner pumping but couldn’t pinpoint where it was.  His body pulsed with the rhythmic hum of the machine. The constant throb became his only existence. It pulsed and pounded in a familiar rhythm. He squeezed his head between his hands, as the sound possessed him. But on and on it went.

Anita was starting to worry about Rusty. She saw him slap his hands over his ears and his mouth opened in a silent scream. He seemed barely coherent and the bed was already damp from his sweat. “Rusty, Rusty, can you hear me?”

Rusty heard a distant voice calling his name but it was soon lost in the rhythmic vibrations that filled his existence. The sound started forming into a familiar chant that filled him with dread. He could hear the chanting voices rise and fall in an eerie cadence. He was back in the dark scorching tunnel of his nightmares. His scream sounded faint against the droning voices as he fell towards the fierce inferno at the bottom of the tunnel.

He squirmed and wiggled as clawed hands shot out from the darkness-trying grab him and rip him into pieces. The claws tore into his flesh. Putrid black smoke rose up the tunnel scorching his lungs, and burning his eyes. The smell made him cough and gag as it crept through his nose and mouth. It was joined by the odor of burnt flesh as his skin began to blister and peel.

All the voices coalesced into one. He could hear the hatred as the sound pierced him like a fiery dart. It was the venomous voice of his mom cursing and deriding him as a worthless little puke. He could feel her malignant pleasure as she promised to make him pay for everything he had done. She was standing before him with a bloody knife poised above her head. The blood dripped down on to front of her robe forming a hideous scarlet stain. “ I should have aborted you when I had the chance you useless little piece of crap.” She tried to slit his throat but Rusty dropped like a wounded bird into the fiery chasm and the knife flashed over his head. His mom let out a wretched shriek. “Come back here you little bastard. See what mommy has for you.”

Rusty screamed and fell out of the narrow bead, he started thrashing around on the concrete floor. Anita put her hands on his shoulders and Eleanor let out a series of plaintiff barks. “Duane, he’s having a seizure.”

Rusty began to slowly spin down the tunnel. He spun faster, building more and more speed until he felt completely out of control. Everything was a blur as it sped past his eyes. He heard the wind whistle as it rushed around him and blew his damp hair into his face. His cries of despair whirled around his head. He was gripped with overwhelming dread as he shot down the long dark tunnel.  His stomach tried to force it’s way out of his mouth and he began to retch and vomit. He could see his sister Rachel standing with her back to him. Blood was gushing out of the pentagram carved into her back. He called to her but she didn’t respond. When he reached out and shook her shoulder her head rolled off onto the floor and stopped at his feet. Her eyes opened and she began to curse and swear. “You little creep, I told you to stay in your room. Now look what you’ve done to me.  Why don’t you get out of my life? I never liked you and I don’t need some little pest always hanging around.” Rusty wailed in agony and clamped his eyes shut.

He was walking between two cops as they led him out of his house.  His voice sounded small and weak as he called out for his sister. “Rachel, where are you?”  The cops said nothing and a large hand shoved him into the black and white car. He forced himself not to cry and closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to see as his home and his sister slipped away into the distance.

He tried to open his eyes when he heard a new sound. Barking! It was a warm and friendly voice that seemed to be calling to him.

He knew that bark, if only he could remember. It took all he had to focus on the hoarse voice. The loathsome chanting returned with a new intensity but couldn’t overpower the familiar sound. He smiled when he finally recognized the voice. It was Eleanor and she was trying to tell him something. As he listened her barks formed into a pattern. She was sending him a message of hope, pleading with him to look up and reach out for help.

Rusty felt a cool breeze coming from over his head. The pure air drove away the dark noxious haze and filled him with the sweet smell of a high mountain forest. It cooled his lungs and soothed his skin.

He looked up and gasped in surprise. A magnificent eagle hovered directly above him glowing with a grey translucence. White feathers crowned its’ great head giving the eagle a look of authority. Huge iridescent wings looked more like strong muscular arms that ended in finger-like feathers. Elegant patterns in hues of gray and black covered the eagles’ chest.

The great bird cried out with a voice that he would never forget. Rusty reached up with both arms as high as they would go. The eagle swooped down and gently gripped Rusty in his enormous talons.  The eagle hid Rusty amongst the thick feathers covering his chest to protect him from the surging flames. Rusty could see feathers burning as the eagle rushed upward.

Anita held onto Rusty so he wouldn’t fall off of the bed again. He screamed and thrashed like a man on fire. Suddenly he stopped and lay perfectly still. Anita froze, and Eleanor growled and barked. “Help us Lord, don’t let him die.” She put her ear against his chest and waited for a heartbeat that never came. “Duane, call the paramedics. His heart stopped.” Anita pinched his nose, covered his mouth with hers, filled his lungs with her breath and repeated the whole procedure again. She ripped open his shirt and pumped his chest with both hands while counting each pump out loud.” One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten…” When she reached thirty the grabbed his wrist and felt for a pulse. “C’mon Rusty don’t die on me.” She bent down and breathed into his mouth two more times then started her pump. Tears were flowing down her cheeks as she counted off the pumps. When she reached a count of twelve Rusty started coughing.

“He’s awake”. Duane and Diana rushed into the room. Anita stepped back. Rusty sat slowly up and groaned. The room slowly came into a hazy focus around him.   “What happened? I feel terrible.


2 Comments on “Chapter 4”

  1. mark lane Says:

    Thanks Steve. It was worth the wait.

  2. mark lane Says:

    Wishing you a happy holiday!

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